Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Farm Produce

Farm Produce Truck

Fantastic photograph by Beer Brain

Friday, August 20, 2010

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

This beautiful Eastern Tiger Swallowtail is missing one of his tails. Probably had a close call with a bird, but he seems to be doing just fine without it. The flower here is called Obedient Plant (Physostegia virginiana), and it's one of my favorite late season perennial flowers.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Tobacco Flower

Who knew Tobacco plants had such pretty flowers? Not me! I've never seen a field full of Tobacco plants growing down in Virginia or the Carolinas, but it must be quite a gorgeous sight when the crop is in bloom. My crop consists of just three plants but they are coming along quite nicely. They really give off a strong Tobacco smell, something else I wasn't aware of. I'm looking forward to my first attempt at curing the leaves at the end of the season.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

August Harvests

Who says Friday the 13th is an unlucky day? Not in my garden!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Seed Saving 101

Saving tomato seeds is very easy and a great way to continue growing your favorite variety of heirloom tomatoes for years to come. By saving the seeds from the best fruits of the season, you are assuring the continuation of excellent fruit production in the coming seasons. You are selecting the best from your own particular growing conditions, not some generalized hybrid seed meant to be grown anywhere.

Here is all you need to do...

Squeeze the seeds from a tomato into a clean jar. Remember, use one of your top quality specimens.

Add some water to the jar...

Cover the jar with plastic and poke some holes in the plastic. Place the jar on a shelf out of direct sunlight for several days.

After three or four days a layer of mold will have formed on the surface of the water, and you will notice that the seeds have settled on the bottom. Use a spoon to remove the mold from the jar.

Now gently run water into the jar and carefully pour off the rinse water. The seeds will stay on the bottom of the jar as long as you pour the water off gently. Keep doing this until the water runs clear and all that is left is clean seeds. Pour these seeds onto a coffee filter. You can also use a paper towel, but the seeds tend to stick to paper towels.

Place the coffee filter on a plate and set it back on the shelf to dry for a few days. When completely dry, you can now store the seeds for next season. I usually just wrap them up in the same coffee filter and then put them into a white envelope. Make sure you label the envelope with the name of the tomato variety and the year you saved them.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Tomato Report

I have not heard a single complaint from a Mid-Atlantic tomato gardener this season. Excellent Spring conditions followed up by a hot dry summer have resulted in near perfect conditions for growing tomatoes. I had a small case of Blossom End Rot show up on my early Schimmeig Creg fruits, but that seemed to correct itself with some fertilizer applications. No sign of the dreaded Late Blight that so devastated the crops of 2009. I'm looking forward to the final push of late season fruits as we wind down to the end of a wonderful growing season. Here is a collection of the best examples of my tomatoes so far this season...

garden peach

assorted cherry tomatoes

dr. wyche's yellow


german red strawberry

santore roma

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Giant-Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum)

This is one of my favorite sections of the garden. I planted this Giant Hyssop here about six years ago and it faithfully returns every season to reward me with tall sweeping fronds of gorgeous lavender colored flowers. Throughout the day these flowers are swarming with bees of all types... from tiny little bees to the biggest Bumble Bees, it is a non-stop frenzy of activity. The path leading to my garden hose is right next to this row of Giant Hyssop, and I walk right past this party of bees several times a day. The bees are so engrossed in their pollen gathering activities, they never give me a second glance. In fact, did you know that when a Bumble Bee is collecting pollen you can actually pet it? Years ago I used to show my kids how to "pet the bee". They would watch in amazement as I would find a Bumble Bee and gently reach out and stroke it's back with my index finger. I've never encountered a Bumble that seemed to mind it a bit.

Now these guys below are a different story. While they don't seem to mind me getting close to them with my camera, I don't think they would tolerate being touched.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Dr. Wyche's Yellow

This is the first year I have grown this variety, and this is the very first fruit I've harvested. Haven't tasted it yet, but it sure is a beautiful tomato! I am certainly going to save some seeds for next year.

DR WYCHE'S YELLOW TOMATO (Solanum lycopersicum) was developed by the late Dr. John Wyche who owned the Cole Brothers Circus. Produces meaty, rich tasting yellow-orange one pound tomatoes. Heavy yields even without elephant manure, which is supposedly what the good doctor used in his garden soil!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Where did July go?

Wow! I just realized that I didn't put up a single post in the month of July! Seems like the Summer is flying by. It has been very hot and dry here in the Mid-Atlantic region, with an occasional severe thunderstorm to stir things up with sudden heavy rain and high wind. Four inches of rain on a recent Monday morning!

I've been taking lot's of photographs of the garden even though I haven't been posting them here. Just to catch up, here are images of delicious produce from the garden that were all harvested during the month of July...